John O’Dowd has finished second at the Make Smoking History Experts Cup and jumped back into second place on the 2017 CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship leaderboard.
The round four result was O’Dowd’s best of the WARC season so far and his third podium finish of the year. “To be sitting in second in the championship, with just two events left for the season, is great position to be in,” O’Dowd said. “We went out at Collie wanting to make up for the last round, and we did that.”
Last month, O’Dowd and co-driver Ken Sheil were controversially penalised for a ‘checking-in error’ at the MRF Boddington Rally. Despite logging an official protest, the pair, who were third fastest at the event, were denied a podium finish. They also dropped to fourth on the championship leaderboard.
The Make Smoking History Experts Cup Rally was run in dry conditions and featured three stages, each run three times. “The first run was pretty good,” O’Dowd said. “It was a little bit loose in places, but the roads got cut up a lot as the event went on.”
“It meant, that, despite having a good set of notes, you were really heading into the unknown on the second and third runs.”
The event was won by O’Dowd’s Maximum Motorsport team mates Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver who are running in this year’s CAMS Australian Rally Championship. “Hats off to Brad and Toni,” O’Dowd said. “They were the deserved winners of this one.”
The next round of the WARC is two months away. The Wheels On Yirrigan Kumho Tyre Kirup Stages will be run in WA’s south west on Saturday, September 9.
With such a big gap between events, O’Dowd said he’s likely to compete in WA premier tarmac rally, Quit Targa West, from August 10 to 13.
“I’m not sure what car I’ll drive yet,” he said.
Photo: Gemma Lucas